Pink Champagne and Apple Juice
by Anne Brooke

Pink Champagne and Apple Juice cover

reviewed by David Gardiner

ISBN: 095316134X
~ 246 pages ~
Goldenford Publishers Ltd.

Available from Amazon and The Book Depository

The Odyssey of a young girl running away from her Chelmsford home to big bad London, where she finds temporary accommodation with black-sheep-of-thefamily Uncle John who is enjoying a successful career as the drag queen and night club proprietor "Jolene", in (of all places) Muswell Hill. She goes through a series of adventures, romantic and otherwise, in pursuit of her dream of running a sophisticated café/restaurant, and we watch her personal unfolding brought about by the process.
        The opening chapters seem light and amusing and are written in a style so straightforward and conversational as to seem almost artless. This is not however a criticism, because it ensures that the author doesn't intrude into what is in fact a very involving and quite touching rites-of-passage story about growing up and pursuing your dreams in the adult world. Although the early chapters are played almost entirely for laughs, as the story progresses many extra layers emerge (and it becomes a little raunchy), but the lightness of touch is never lost. Angie and Uncle John turn into far more human and engaging characters than we might have expected, with emotional lives that the reader can no longer dismiss as comic hyperbole.
        This is in fact a much better and more serious book than it seems at first. It deals with the struggle of a young girl to break away from home and become a person in her own right who is then strong enough to take on the task of mending her damaged relationship with her mother and finding emotional anchors in a new world away from home. Few of us will fail to see something of our own story in Angie's. Most of all though, it's great entertainment, and you'll find yourself wanting to read it as quickly as you can to find out what happens next.
        This would be a perfect book to give to a teenage girl who isn't much interested in reading. The author seems completely at ease with her teens/twenties heroine and presents her with affection and understanding and without a whiff of condescension or disapproval. As a result, we like her too and care about what happens to her and how her plans pan out. For a light but not brain-dead summer read you won't go far wrong with this one.